Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Are You Wasting 10,000 Hours Of Your Life?


Malcolm Gladwell, displaying his awesome 'science hair'


There's been much coverage recently of Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers, due out in a couple of weeks, which outlines his theory that the secret of success in any discipline is simply to put 10,000 hours into practicing it.

Russell posted something on this a year ago.

Namely, that Gladwell's 10,000 hours principle is wonderfully reassuring for violinists or chess players - their job is the same today as it was 10 years ago, and they'll be doing the exact same thing in 10 years' time.

But what about us?

Our business is changing fast. Are you spending 10,000 hours becoming an expert in something that won't even exist in 10 years' time?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Our business is changing fast. Are you spending 10,000 hours becoming an expert in something that won't even exist in 10 years' time?"

Of course, this is a trick question, Simon. Human brain won't change in 10 years or 100 years. So we're going to use the same psychology as we use these days. We'll just deliver the message in different shapes and colours. Advertising will still be about great ideas, which are like liquids -- they take the shape of the container you put them into.

But we don't even get to worry about the evolution of advertising. The 10,000 hour training theory falls into pieces long before we get to analyse the timeline:

The faulty thinking comes when someone believes that after 10,000 hours of training in generating brilliant ideas your success is guaranteed. Those 10,000 hours might be enough for becoming an impressive professional in some area of activity that requires skills, not talent/inspiration. And more, can anyone tell what the concrete training for becoming an extraordinary creative is? Solving briefs? Could be. But what if travelling is more inspiring? Or dancing. Or David Bowie's "5.15 The Angels Have Gone".

...or staring out the window.

Roo said...

Suppose it depends if you're doing it solely to become Shaolin Ninja Master 2.0 of advertising. Or perhaps you're doing it simply because it's similar to what you enjoyed doing at school/uni etc.

If the later, then not worth worrying about. Crack on.

Guy and Sarah, creatives said...

Radio 4 did a show about him sometime last year. Kind of explains why it takes about two years for most people to get a job (except in a recession, of course).

Anonymous said...

First anon nailed it. Spending 10,000 hours being creative is invaluable. Spending 10,000 hours repeating the past...not so much.

Anonymous said...

The Anon above me summed up the other Anon well. I wholeheartedly agree.

writer said...

I've wasted 10,000 hours in PowerPoint presentations which would have been better spent working.

It's not the 10,000 hours of practice that counts, it's learning to eliminate the wasted ones from your life. Violinists and chess players tend not to go to long meetings.

Anonymous said...

I remember the days when you got a bit of time to work on a brief. Now it's just a case of writing down the first things that pop into your head.
It's a shame because I find that the more you can think about something, the more likely you are to think of something good Terribly old fashioned of me I know.

Anonymous said...

I've wasted 10,000 hours in Powerpoint presentations when I could have been wanking.

I'm quite good at wanking now. I think I passed 10,000 hours when I was 15.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In regard to post at 9:45 AM

Scamp I think you should add "no posting stupid links in the comments" to your house rules.

Anonymous said...

To Scamp and everyone who reads his blog:

I'm an art student and I'm thinking of applying for the Watford Course. I have the 10 questions here and I was wondering if anyone could give me advice as to how much work I should put to each question?

For example: Did some of you put more effort into some questions than others or did you do loads for everything?

Any help would be great! Cheers!

John.

Anonymous said...

John, surely you can work this out for yourself. You are already marking yourself out as a YouTube raper of the future.

Anonymous said...

John. You should put 50% effort into questions 1-3, then 10% effort into questions 4-9, and a whopping 40% effort into question 10.

If you have any effort left, put it in a jar and save it for an emergency.

Anonymous said...

How many years would 10,000 hours equate to?
Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Just over 5 years, based on an 8 hour day, and a 4 week holiday per year.

o.s said...

I posted your question last time I read about this and got a reply with two types of experiences. Don't remember them now - but yes you're right. It doesn't apply to us in the same way. But 10 000 hours of experience in handling problems in a changing world is highly valuable training. About how to HANDLE and change with change.

Anonymous said...

Are you telling me mousebreaker football won't exist in 10years? i've put more that 10,000 hours into that puppy, and i'm really quite good at it i tells ya. yeah, really good.
Oops, the CD's watching me

Is this blog worth 10,000 hours of your time Scam-p?

Anonymous said...

Gladwell is a great communicator, but don’t let’s give him credit for coming up with this theory. I first read about it a few years back in Daniel Levitin’s best-selling ‘This Is Your Brain on Music’ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Your-Brain-Music-Understanding/dp/1843547155) and, IIRC, he said the research on which it was based is several years old.

If you read the extract from Gladwell’s new book in the New Yorker, you’ll see it’s the usual Gladwell stuff: a few bits of pop psychology that will be coming soon to a planner’s PowerPoint near you and some nicely told anecdotes.

Sure, he’s an engaging writer, but the respect accorded to the curly haired wonder as some kind of prophet of modern life is baffling.

Anonymous said...

1:10 You do sound like someone who has no other interest besides mousebreaker football. Don't worry, as I said, human brain won't change, there will always be small size organs for intelligence-free individuals willing and able to spend their time the same way you do.

Anonymous said...

1:41

Haw haw you are so sophisticated. I bet you bash off over the rebellious prose of playboy articles.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
provato said...

actually i am wasting all my life not learning to grow food and collect rain water.

Now THESE are skills we will all be needing soon.


by the way congrats on that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJxpTlRulA0

Anonymous said...

Sorry to change the subject but does anyone understand the new vw tiguan ad?
I might be a bit thick but I've no idea what it's about...

Lunar BBDO said...

Everyone passes their driving test with that silly old duffer cos the car is so easy to drive.

Anonymous said...

Oh... Ok. Thanks.

Scamp said...

Re: 10:19 on 9.45.
Good suggestion, I've implemented it.

Anonymous said...

That Tiguan ad. Good idea. But, yeah, really hard to understand. And why wasn't it set in Wimbledon.

You need to see this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq8Uc5BFogE&eurl=http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/

Anonymous said...

Who is the actor in the Barclaycard ad? He works in ads, right?